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A glimpse into 2017: As the world gets more crowded so does the Internet

- June 17, 2013 3:16 pm

Every year we release our annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) report that examines trends in Internet usage and adoption, and forecasts four years into the future to predict what the world, and Internet, may look like.

As the global population continues to rise, so does the number of Internet users and devices connected to the Internet. But where does it end? Does it end?

In 2012 there were 2.3 billion Internet users, accounting for 32 per cent of the of the world’s population. This is a pretty surprising statistic until we look ahead to 2017. Over the next four years, it appears that the pervasive nature of the Internet and mobile devices will continue to diminish the “digital divide”. We forecast that by 2017 there will be 3.6 billion users worldwide, in the hands of 48% of the global population.

So how are we doing in Canada?

Well, in 2012 Canada had 29 million Internet users, accounting for 85% of our total population. By 2017, this number will steadily increase to 33 million users.

By 2017, there will be 255 million networked devices across our country, a massive increase from the 140 million devices in 2012. How much more data will Canadians be creating in 2017? Let me put it this way: Canada’s IP traffic in 2017 will be equivalent to 11 billion DVDs per year, 885 million DVDs per month, or 1 million DVDs per hour.

In other words: in 2017, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross Canada’s IP networks every 2 hours.

That’s a lot of data, and our networks need to be ready for it.

Let’s look at the global figures again.

In 2012, there were 12 billion devices around the world connected to the Internet (including fixed, mobiles devices, machine-to-machine connections and so forth). The VNI report estimates that by 2017 there will be 19 billion devices – an increase of 58% in just a few years.

And if you thought our Canadian figures were shocking, here’s something you make you really think: global Internet users will generate 3 trillion minutes of Internet video per month in 2017. That’s equal to 6 million years of video per month, or 1.2 million video minutes every second.

There are fewer than 550,000 minutes in a year. In 2017, global Internet users will create more than two years’ worth of video every second.

If you’re thinking “If I only buy a new laptop every five years and a new cell phone every three years, how could there possibly be seven billion more devices connected to the Internet in four years?”

There’s a simple answer, we’re entering the Internet of Everything. Over the next several years we are going to see previously unconnected people, processes, data and things become connected. Today, the Internet is predominantly made up of computers and mobile devices interacting with users and each other, but soon we will see cars interacting with city streets, and soil interacting with crops and sprinkler systems. It’s called the Internet of Everything for a reason, and the possibilities are truly endless.

Although it’s difficult to know what the future holds, I feel confident that we will see things we never imagined become connected to the Internet, communicating with other devices and people in ways we never thought possible.  We just have to ensure that our network infrastructure is ready to make this journey with us.

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